Disclaimer, I do not own Tomorrow When the War Began. That'll be John Marsden.
This story was uploaded before.
But I couldn't work out how to work this out so I deleted it.
So now, I'm just gonna post this as a one-shot.
I turned away silently from the room. I walked wistfully down the steps into the garden, leaving the talks about my recent engagement to the adults. I went and sat down under the tree, the exact same tree house at "her" house. I fingered the leafy, velvet leaves as a brilliant blue butterfly flew past me. I lay down on the may-green grass and looked to the sky. The sky was dotted with clouds, candyfloss clouds good enough to eat. I looked down across me, the dirt and prickly grass brushing my face. I saw a reflection of sliver hitting my eye as the sun reflected on it. I picked myself up and looked down carefully into the dirt. I placed my hands into the garden of bright tulips, dahlias and camellias. I felt my hands scrap the rock-hard dirt, until it hit something.
A tin box, maybe. I divulge both my hands into the garden along with my face. I scratched away the dirt as hard as I could and finally revealed a child's tin lunch box. I laughed as the picture of Tweety was in the background, slowly turning from a cute yellow birdie to a dust-covered orange blob. A large big black X had been painted on the top of the lid, like it was the treasure to the map. I pried open the lid of the box to see it stuffed with bits and pieces of someone's life; someone's treasures. I saw a handmade ragdoll, a jar of strawberry preserves, a pressed four-leaf-clover, and a yellowed, faded brown piece of paper, a handful of wilted dandelions and a pile of pictures. I picked up the pictures. There were eight of them, securely tied together with a thin purple cord. They were Polaroids. I wiped away the think layer of dirt on them as I picked up the first picture. The first picture was a picture of a boy. Although it was a solitary picture, it still was a beautiful picture. I looked down at the boy, smiling. Reminiscing, I remembered this boy was the last unofficial eight to come camping with me and "her". I looked at this boy's face, he had intense eyes and had a light built. I remembered him like I remembered everyone else, their faces now crystal clear in my mind.
"Chris?" I murmured, stunned. I looked at the car overturned in the lake, this car that has been like this for the past months. I turned away, I couldn't look. I heard Fi next to be gasp and kneel down in shock. I saw Homer's and Kevin's face looking startled. All I could see from Lee's face was nothing; like he was keeping his emotions bottled in, refusing to show any sign of feeling. I looked back at the scene. It was Chris, stuck in the overturned car, dead. His face had turned to marble and his eyes were bloodshot. His lifeless, soulless eyes; staring at us, looking like a ghost. I walked towards to car a quick jerk in my step. I closed his eyes, feeling like there wasn't much I could do. The feel of his skin was so pale cold; it felt like he had been frozen. I wanted to scream out to the world, to the sky. Why do this to us again to us? We've already lose someone. And it seemed to me that Chris's death affected me because we had yet again lost someone. A choked sob echoed into the air. I clutched my mouth, thinking it was me you had made the sound. But it wasn't. I turned around to see Robyn on the dirty, muddy ground, her eyes brimming with tears, her sobs being choked in her desperate need of air. She was hyperventilating. I knelt down next to her. This was the first time I've ever seen Robyn break down and it takes a lot to bring down Robyn Mathers. I turned to look back at the lifeless body and thought a pensive thought. In a way, Chris had taught us something. That we needed to care for each other more than ever, to look after each other better from now on. And that we needed to live our lives to the best we can get and to be willing to pay the price it demanded. In a way, the drunken poet had taught us. There were only 6 of us now; we were all we had left of each other.
I turned away from the picture. My eyes now facing the roses and tiger lilies. A lone, silent tear of emotion slid down my cheek and plopped onto the picture. I remembered everything about Chris in that moment. I've always wished I could make up to him. I've always wished I could've been more supportive, that I should've seen that he was headed down this road. I wiped away the second tear before it fell onto the picture. Quickly, I slipped to the next picture.
Ahhhh, I thought as I stared at the next picture. It was a boy, but this boy was definitely a rural. He was strong and looked handsome-looking but with an arrogant look in his face. His wheat-blonde hair was always dusted with orange specks and his arm was around a girl. A girl had dark red hair flowing way past her shoulders, smiling and laughing. I glanced at the girl momentarily confused. I looked back at the rural boy and a memory floated into my mind.
"AHHHHHHHHHHHH! HELP THERE'S A SNAKE. OMG IT'S MOVING! EVERYONE THERE'S A SNAKE IN MY SLEEPING BAG! HOMER? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING YOU IDIOT!" Kevin shouted as he saw Homer approach him with two large sticks.
"Chill. Relax dude. Oh, and Kevin, Keep in mind seeing a man scream like a little girl is very disturbing to the guys over there and if I was your woman, but I'm not because I'm not gay, I would seriously wonder if you are a gaa-OUCHH!" Homer said, looking pissed. He looked at Kevin who had slapped him on the arm.
"DUDE! That hurt like hell. Mean jerk-face!" Homer muttered as he approached the sleeping bag. Kevin glared at him as he walked towards Corrie. Everyone else was laughing at Homer's comment on Kevin's sexuality and couldn't seem too stopped. Homer wore a big grin on his face as Corrie and Kevin gave everyone withering looks, but not without Corrie giving me a tiny wink. I laughed. I've always thought Kevin was the best thing that ever happened to Corrie.
I smiled, the ghost of a laugh whispering from my lips. Those were the days were everything seemed to be okay. Those were the days were our minds weren't corrupted of wars, deaths and learning to survive even if it meant having to kill someone. Those were the days when I didn't know I'd be killing innocent people left and right. Those were the days when we actually enjoyed ourselves as teenagers. In a way that camping trip was our last hour, our last couple of days of freedom. Freedom of not being an adult. Freedom of not being haunted by nightmares of the dead. It was the last hours of being a teenager. The minute we started to participate in the war we had changed to grown ups. Our minds had changed, our lives had changed. We began to think and act like adults; it was the only chance of survival. But this flashback reminded me of teenager freedom and how life was so good back then.
Beaming, I flipped to the next picture. Immediately that small moment of happiness disappeared. My smile disappeared. Out of the four girls in the picture, one of them stood out. She was shorter than the rest of the girls and nuggety. She was broad-shouldered and strong-looking. She, out of the eight of us was the unofficial, quiet leader. The leader that pushed the others along, the leader who encouraged them, the one who had simple, kind gestures that brighten our days. She was the leader-type who would've sacrificed her life for ours; to give us a couple of minutes to run. And, when the time came for her to do that, she did. I've always thought that heroes were supposed to be brave, strong and tough. This girl changed my perspective of things for me. Because while she was the heroine she wasn't brave, strong or tough; she was scared and uncertain. But she had always taught me one thing in all this chaos; that you had to believe in something, it sounded so simple but both me and her found it difficult.
I remembered when Robyn told me the story about what happened to Lee and her. I'm always astounded by her bravery, her courage and her strength. She was my role model, definitely. When I think about what happened that night, I always imagine what I would've done. I know for sure that I can't lift a fully grown man and carry him five blocks. And I know Robyn couldn't. Yet she did, exhausting herself but she continued on. To hear that Robyn did this, without a complaint makes me think she's an unofficial leader of sorts. The one person that is always on the look out to care for others. She puts others before herself. One thing that is definitely good about Robyn is that she keeps her head when the world falls apart. When she told me what happened; how she chucked the photocopier through the door, how she lugged Lee around on her back and how she carried him for five blocks. I think I nearly cried. While she was doing this, we had lain down in comfortable beds and had gone to asleep. Only to be woken up with breakfast on a tray. I think Robyn is always going to be my role model, no matter dead or alive.
Right now, thinking about Robyn makes me want to cry. Thinking about Robyn has always made me want to cry. But she had always told us that moping around and crying was useless. She always told me that she had never seen me cry and that seeing me cry would be like seeing someone give up. So for the sake of everything, for the sake to please Robyn, I tried to never cry. But right now, in the midst of no war, my eyes pricked with tiny petals of tears. She always told us that it was getting us nowhere to sit and cry and that we needed to get up and get going. When Robyn had left this life for heaven, the rest of us were in a mental breakdown mode for months. It was still difficult to process that she, and only her that had sacrificed her for us to get away in time. She had sacrificed herself, so we could be free. Nowadays, I always understand the meaning of ANZAC days. How people cry, how people feel hopelessness. Because, brave people out there like Robyn had sacrificed themselves just so we could live. So would could fight back and come home victorious. And how even when we want to give up, the people who had sacrificed themselves wouldn't want us to be like that. I smile pensively as I wiped away the tear; Robyn was a true war hero. She was the heroine in the war. The official one. Looking onwards wistfully I flipped to the next picture.
And here was a picture of a gorgeous girl. She was someone who was beautiful, graceful and delicate. In my mind, she was the perfect person. Back at the start of the camping trip, I thought I knew this girl well. I've known her since she was five and I thought I understood how she worked, how her mind worked. In the many, many months of war I realised she wasn't how I had projected in my mind. I had underestimated and I guess I've never really understood her. When Corrie was taken to the hospital and Robyn had scarified herself there was only one person to turn to. She was my emotional backbone for the rest of the war. She helped me. She supported me. She was like perfection. It was only till the end of this drastic war did I realised that perfection had its flaws.
I looked around me. The view was amazing. I turned and looked at the others. I saw everyone beginning to stretch and to pack the food supplies into their packs. I turned to look at Fi and her backpack. It seemed to me, that Fi's backpack was getting more swollen by the minute. I couldn't help but ask her "FI? What on earth do you have in your pack?"
Fi looked up, her beautiful face looking at me confused.
"I've only got what Corrie told me to pack. Clothes, Shirts, and Towels"
I looked at her in amusement. "Really Fi? Seriously what's in that bag? You can't have just that?"
"Well… umm, I might have some pyjamas?" she muttered looking embarrassed.
"And maybe a dressing gown…" Fi ended, looking extremely embarrassed.
"Oh Fi, you really can't take all this. We'll be walking forever!" I said, holding back a laugh.
"Umm… Ellie? Do you think I should take out the pillow then?"
"YES!" I said, grinning as I rounded up everyone else to help reorganise Fi's backpack. Let's just say Fi was not included out of the six.
I couldn't help it. The memory was funny, it was hilarious. Since I didn't see Fi, I laughed. A big burst of bubbly laughter had come flying out of my mouth. It's sweet, angelic voice wowing everyone with it melody. I'm just joking. It was a hearty laugh. Much like a man's and I felt incredibly embarrassed when a couple of adults had popped their head out of the windows to see what the commotion was. I laughed quietly to myself and hid myself behind the acorn tree. I wished I had someone here, to giggle about how Mrs Pinner's facial expression was hilarious. I wished "she" was here. I sighed, thinking back when there were times when we would have a private giggle about Mrs Pinner, up in the old tree house. I missed "her". Sighing again, I turned over to the next picture.
I think I actually gave another hearty laugh when I saw this picture. It was a picture of a smiling idiot, grinning into the camera and winking as he took away the ladder resting on the roof. While the person fixing the roof was still at the top of it. He was still the crazy guy who was my childhood friend. I grinned, my mind quickly flipping towards another memory, reminiscence.
Homer Yannos had always been one of my best friends. He was always the troublemaker at the start, always the rebel; the loudmouth, even immature. But this war has changed him. As I sat, seated on the log, I realised that Homer, my best friend Homer, wasn't who I expected. Yet again it seemed like I had underestimated people. The crazy guy Homer had disappeared, to be replaced with leadership role model Homer. As he planned out the attack towards Cobbler's Bay bridge, I thought how different he was. He was always surprising me nowadays. It was getting harder to remember the old Homer, who used to take ladders off roofs so people couldn't get down.
Oh Homer, I thought in my mind. He was in some words still new to me, despite the years of friendship. He was an unexpected mystery. Sometimes I see him, being like old Homer would behave. He would joke around and be the one ready with a laugh. But the other side of Homer, the one that had appeared in the war was still here. Homer was still very much the leader. He was still, very much my best friend. And I guess no-one knows how it feels to lose a friend, a best friend. You never get over. But I am forever grateful that Homer is still by my side.
I looked onwards, straight ahead. I heard the slight chatter and the tiny tinkle of champagne bottles clinking. I turned slightly when I heard the fly-screen door creak open. I saw a curious little girl bob her head down and look around. She turned, looking to make sure there wasn't anyone watching and began to walk to the flower beds. In silence I watched her pick a tulip, a dahlia and a camellia from the bed. She turned to walk over to the roses, her hand grasped around the tiny posy of colourful flowers. I suddenly moved my back aching from lying against the bark of the tree. The girl turned, scared, but her expression changed as she saw me.
"Aunt Ellie! Whatcha doing down here?" she said smiling sheepishly. I smiled and gestured her to come closer.
"What are you doing with my flowers, Lily?" I asked, trying not to laugh.
"Umm, well… Aunt Ellie, I was going to make a flower posy for mummy. Can I do that Aunt Ellie?" she replied, smiling innocently, her big blue eyes round as saucers.
"Hmmm. Promise me you be careful? You wouldn't want to get stung by a bee!" I said.
"I promise Aunt Ellie and if a bee comes, I-I-I BITE IT!" Lily exclaimed as she smiled and bounded off my lap and head off to the opposite garden, full of bellflowers, orchids and freesias. I watched her pick some more flowers to add to her posy and smiled. I turned back to the photos and chuckled at the picture.
It was a picture of a young boy who was quite close to being a man. This boy had intense, possum eyes that always stared at me. In this picture, his sitting on a comfortable-looking rock, the ocean-blue murky stream behind him. His eyes looking off in the distance but you can see that the photographer has caught what he is staring at. I look surprised as I see it's me; Fi and me who are laughing by the lake's side as we prepared the dinner. I'm startled but as I looked back at the picture I see that his leg had been bandaged and that his eyes seemed to wince in pain as a slight trickle of blood ran down his foreleg.
I turned to look at Lee. His face was a sweating and his eyes were close as if closing his eye would numb away the pain. I looked down at his knee where a bullet had shot him. A constant flowing mass of deep red blood gushed from his leg. His leg now turning into a yellowed, sickly colour. I watched as Mr Clement tightly bounded Lee's leg with white gauze. I heard him mumbling instructions to Robyn but I drowned them out. All I could hear was my thumping heart, Lee's thumping heart and the bandaged knee. I saw him wince in the tiniest of seconds when Robyn inserted the needle, just like Dr Clement had said. I wanted to hold his hand, but I saw from his face that the pain was really too incredible. Although his face remained stoic his dark, intense eyes were glimmering with pain. I turned, when the noise of the door closing echoed to me. It seemed like Dr Clement had abandoned us. I look towards Homer who had jump come in. He looked to Lee but didn't say anything. I saw Lee still looking at me intensely, but I looked away. I turned to Homer who began to layout the plan. While he was talking, I saw a tear slide down Lee's face as he saw, yet again, how badly damaged his home had become.
I think out of all of us, Lee had been hurt the most. He had been shot in the leg in the first week of the war and he had seen his whole house being crashed, smashed and damaged. I knew that he was good at keeping his emotions bottled up and he had trouble letting pain to be seen. Although he was a nerd, he was more of a musical nerd than a computer nerd. Lee always fascinated me, interested me. But time passed, people changed. I'm the type of person to forgive and not forget. Yes, I'm a very complex person.
"AUNT ELLIE! LOOKY!" Lily yelled as she ran across the garden to me. I had subsequently turned to the next picture, but before I had the chance Lily had tumbled into me, smiling. She shoved a flower up into my face and I sneezed. Lily shrieked as she saw the whispery white fluff fly into the air, dispersing like sliver stars. I smiled, they were dandelions.
"AUNT ELLIE! AUNT ELLIE! Make a wish! Mummy says when you blow a star flower you must make a wish!" Lily said, her eyes looking at me. I turned to her shocked. Star flower? Where have I heard it from? As my mind began to ponder about this, Lily began to shake my arm, looking quite insistently.
I smiled and replied" Of course Lily Bear" and then I whispered my wish. I wish that someone will tell me I'm doing the right thing, that marrying George was the right thing. I wanted to wish a great number of things. I wished that Lee hadn't destroyed our relationship. I wished for peace and for no more wars. I wished that "she" would be here; it was times like this that I really wanted to know "her" opinion. I've always asked her opinion before but now that she isn't here I'm totally confused about what to do. I opened my eyes to see Lily hovering around me.
I looked at her, questioningly. Lily looked at me and asked "What did you wish for Aunt Ellie?"
I smiled at her innocent question and replied "For peace, for everyone…"
Lily turned to me and flumped down into the grass next to me. She scoffed at my question and answered "Aunt Ellie is that what you really want?"
I looked her startled. How did Fi and Homer raise such a child? I thought to myself as I looked at Lily again. Lily was a very pretty girl. She had brown hair (from Homer) with tints of blonde (from Fi) and little streaks of auburn in her hair. She sounded exactly like "her" in that moment. I looked at her as the sun caught the light in her hair and it seemed as if she wasn't a brunette but a red-head. She looked exactly like "her" when we were children. I looked down in my lap, my hand crushing to picture in my hand. I turned surprised as I looked to see who it was.
It was "her". My best friend with the gorgeous long red locks and the nice smile. My best friend who had been by my side since I was a toddler. My best friend who I was going to travel the world with me. My best friend who had planned out her entire future. My best friend who is now dead. I began to cry as teardrop after teardrop fell onto the picture. Lily looked startled as she tried to stop me crying. She handed me her handkerchief and said "Everything is going to be okay Aunt Ellie, you see…"
A little girl with red hair came bouncing to me, all bubbly and friendly. She turned to look at me who was crying loud, fat tears and pulled out her handkerchief.
"Everything is going to be okay Ellie, you see..." the red-headed girl said, giving me a small smile.
I turned to look up at her while grabbing the handkerchief.
She looked to me and began to pat my back. She didn't need to know why I was crying, she just knew already why. That's why Corrie Mackenzie is my best friend in the entire world. Corrie put her arm protectively around my shoulders as all the other little kids would pass by and snigger why I cried into the handkerchief. I hated how I was then. As a little kid I was weakling, a nobody. I looked down at the ground as I watched tears dropping to the ground and dissolving into the hot concrete. Corrie left for a minute put was back immediately, holding in her hands a posy of flowers. The posy was filled with bellflowers, camellias, roses, tiger lilies, dahlias, tulips and freesias. And one lone flower, not even a flower a weed; a dandelion.
She turned to me, and saw me watching and shrugged replying my unspoken question "I love flowers, here have this one" and passed me the intertwined dandelion. From far away, the dandelion looked ugly; it looked inferior to the majestic flowers of colour next to it. I thought as I took the plant that Corrie must think that I was ugly and inferior too. I wasn't as brightly colourful as the other flowers; it was a loner and an ugly flower. I turned to look at her tears about to overflow.
"I love the dandelion. But in my mind I call it a star flower. It's the beautifully unnoticed flower and it looks exactly like the stars slivery and white. Like the stars, the star flower is mostly unnoticed and is sliver. So I reckon if you wish on a shooting star, why can't you wish on a dandelion?" Corrie said, smiling happily.
I looked at her confused, unsure what she was saying. Corrie was smarter than me by a mile and my 7 year-old self never really could comprehend. I looked to her as she held up the intertwined dandelions and said to me in a hushed voice "Make a wish, Ellie!"
And we blew the whispers of sliver away as it floated into the air higher and higher up into the sky, until it nearly reached the stars.
My eyes now were full of tears as drop after drop hit the prickly grass. I heard Lily, running away a minute ago, frightened as I clutched her arm and cried. I would be too, I looked like a wreck. Suddenly, I heard the fly-screen door crash open and a jumble of footsteps had came flying down the steps. I looked up, the tears still flowing. And there was Fi, Homer and Lee. The only ones that had survived the war with me. I saw everyone giving me a look of concern as I faced my head downwards, unable to look at anyone in the eye. I heard Fi come over to me and cuddle me, whispering that it be okay. I turned to look at her and for the first time, I saw her as Fi. Not Corrie's replacement, but Fi. Because Corrie couldn't be replaced and neither could Fi.
And I think when the guys came to awkwardly join our hug and whisper comforting words to me that I felt, maybe, that maybe I'll be okay. That I'll be fine from here on out. And for the first time I glanced at my friends faces, laughing at there seriousness. They looked at me puzzled but soon they began to laugh with me. As I threw my head back in laughter from a joke from Homer I think I see the dandelion seeds floating away to the stars.